Debate over Habana Outpost intensifies as construction begins

The battle over the future of the abandoned property has been ongoing since 2012 and neither side appears to be backing down.

NEW ORLEANS -- Construction crews working on the abandoned gas station on Rampart and Esplanade left many wondering if a controversial restaurant proposal was finally moving forward. However, the fate of the property continues to work its way through the courts.

The battle over the future of the abandoned property has been ongoing since 2012 and neither side appears to be backing down.

For the last five years Sean Meenan has been trying to transform the historic gas station into a restaurant. Meenan's restaurant brand, Habana Outpost, currently has locations in New York, Malibu and Dubai. Now he has his sights set on New Orleans.

However, the project remains caught up in legal battles after residents said "not in my neighborhood."

"It's one of the last residential neighborhoods in the French Quarter," Ken Caron argued.

"You put in a big franchise thing and you get people in from all over the place," Alana Eager agreed.

Parking and overcrowding issues remain a concern as well.

"A lot of resources are going to be drained from the neighborhood, Caron said. "For instance parking, quality of life."

Meenan did not get back to WWL-TV for comment, but a statement on his website reads "We want to show respect for the community and the environment in a setting that's fun and accessible for all."

Neighbors say they'd be open to a business moving into the space, as long as it isn't a chain.

"A restaurant maybe, a coffee shop, something small, local," Eager suggested.

"I'd like to see something a little more neighborhoodish," Caron said. "The majority of residents that live in the neighborhood live from St. Ann to Esplanade and there isn't a whole lot of services."

Right now, the case continues to work its way through the legal system. A judge should make a decision sometime this year.

"We're all waiting on that," Caron said.

Until then, the once historic building sits empty and the complaints continue.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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